What’s Next in Digital Printing?

Robot picks and places labels from Epson ColorWorks on-demand color label printer in print-and-apply automation system. Image courtesy of Epson America, Inc.

Integrating Color and Automation

By Mark Middendorf, go-to-market product manager, Label Printers, Epson America, Inc.

Most would think color is commonplace now in the 21st century as we have been “living in color” for over half a century. Yet many U.S. businesses are still living in black-and-white – at least when it comes to their packaging processes.

The two-step labeling process for incorporating color, which can be outdated, inefficient and wasteful, includes ordering large print runs of color-only labels, maintaining a huge inventory of these pre-printed labels and then using thermal printers to add the variable data to the pre-printed color labels as needed.

Labels printed on an on-demand color label printer offer operational efficiencies for businesses. Image courtesy of Epson America, Inc.

The move toward color labeling

Businesses are increasingly realizing how affordable and simple it is to bring on-demand, full-color label printing in-house. Any business with a monthly volume of less than 5,000 color labels per style, per location, are prime candidates for in-house color labeling.

With global supply chain constraints, manufacturers across nearly all segments are more focused than ever on creating high-quality and high-value color labels as efficiently as possible. In today’s world, there should be little to no tolerance for waste or inefficiency when it comes to labeling and packaging. That is why businesses have been turning to solutions that are affordable, reliable, and easy to implement.

Pushing efficiency further with integrated automation

As in-house color label printing technology increasingly piques the interest of manufacturers and businesses that can benefit from it, decision makers are also looking for solutions that will empower them to level up their labeling processes and futureproof operations. One of the solutions is automation, and when combined with on-demand color labeling, the achieved business results can be substantial.

Partial automation refers to the automation of specific tasks, such as pairing an on-demand color label printer with a roll-to-roll system or a die cutter. A color label printer with an added unwinder and rewinder can help to expedite printing jobs by increasing roll capacity and reducing roll changeovers, eliminating the need to collect labels by hand and help minimize the waste associated with tangled or damaged output.Pairing an on-demand color label printer with a die-cut finishing system, capable of die-cutting, laminating, removing matrix, slitting and rewinding, can enable businesses to generate custom full-color die-cut labels at an advantageous cost per label.

Eclipse MINI+ Finisher with Epson C6500 printer for producing custom die-cut color labels. Image courtesy of Epson America, Inc.

Automation is also being driven through incorporating color label printers with print-and-apply applicators. One of the most impressive print-and-apply solutions, and one that is poised for significant future growth, is the combination of an on-demand color label printer configured with a robot to print and apply color labels with accuracy and efficiency.

The momentum for migrating to in-house on-demand color labeling solutions and automating labeling processes will only continue to accelerate as businesses realize how doing so can enable them to achieve new heights in operational efficiency and cost optimization. On-demand color labeling is yielding a dramatic and beneficial impact for those who have adopted it, and it’s only a matter of time before those who are still living in black-and-white begin to implement initiatives to live in color.

About the Author

Mark Middendorf is the Epson ColorWorks go-to-market product manager, working with sales teams and partners to grow awareness around Epson’s on-demand label solutions. Learn more at www.epson.com/colorworks

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